Well, since I now seem to be working on what may end up becoming an episodic novel , I thought that I’d offer some more advice about writer’s block. In particular, the kind of writer’s block which only really comes with longer projects. I am, of course, talking about starting new chapters.
There is nothing worse than suddenly realising that you have absolutely no clue whatsoever how to start the next chapter of your story. Sometimes, if you’ve been working on your story for a while or you’ve done a lot of planning beforehand, it can be pretty obvious what happens in the next chapter. But, if you’re like me and don’t like to plan things too much or you’re just starting your story, then it can be a real problem.
One way to get your next chapter moving again is to change the setting. Sometimes, a scene which might be boring and uninspiring in one location suddenly becomes a lot more interesting and fun to write when it’s set in another location. It’s that simple – some places are more interesting to write about than other places.
However, this isn’t always practical in some stories. Even so, it’s something you should still think about, since it might actually be possible to set your next chapter in another location when you think about it carefully. Plus, thinking about the same events taking place in a different place can help you to see your story in a slightly different light which might provide you with some extra insights into how to make a particular scene work well in the setting you were originally going to use.
And, lastly, having an alternative setting for the beginning of your next chapter can help you with your original idea since it gives you an emergency backup plan that you can use if everything else fails. Although you might not end up using your alternative idea, it can take some of the pressure off of you and it ensures that starting your new chapter isn’t the “all or nothing” thing it might have previously been.
This actually came in handy when I was writing the first chapter of “Liminal Rites”. The first chapter pretty much had to be a classic “film noir” scene where the detective (Claura) is given a case to work on by a mysterious stranger. Usually in these kinds of scenes, the detective is in their office – or, in Claura’s case, her almost abandoned student house. However, this seemed like a rather dull setting for the beginning of a story – but I didn’t really think that I could really set it anywhere else.
I tried to write the start of this chapter about three times before abandoning it for the night. I felt discouraged – it was the kind of evil writer’s block which can easily turn a new project into an abandoned one in less than a few seconds. I knew it all too well. I’d lost countless stories to it throughout my life. If I didn’t do something soon, everything would be lost.
So, I abandoned it and went to sleep a while later. It seemed like the logical thing to do.
The next day, as I thought about it more, I suddenly realised that I should set the first chapter somewhere more interesting. Maybe a strange cafe of some kind? Maybe even the coast? As soon as I thought of this, both of these scenes started to play out vividly in my mind and I felt better about the story. It had a future.
Of course, when it came to sitting down in front of the keyboard to write the first chapter, I suddenly decided to try one of the ideas I’d had last night again. After all, if it failed, then I could just use one of the other versions of the first chapter I’d come up with earlier. In short, I felt relaxed about it. Then, to my surprise, my original idea started working and, in about an hour, I’d written the first chapter…
I’m sure that you probably have your own version of this story. Every writer has. New chapters seem to be one of the most common places for writer’s block to strike.
At least you now hopefully have something you can use to sneak around it when it strikes the next time.